In the Amsterdam Growth And Health Longitudinal Study (AGAHLS), a group of approximately 650 12- to 14-year-old boys and girls was followed in their growth, and development of their health their lifestyle including diet, physical activity and smoking. One of the main interests was the change in their aerobic fitness. From 12 to 36 years of age in total, eight repeated measurements were performed to measure peak oxygen uptake (peak VO2). In this study the data of peak VO2 are revisited and extended: We made use of all collected data as a mixed longitudinal design including cross-sectionally measured subjects as well as longitudinally measured subjects. This led to the availability of 1,194 boys and 1356 girls. With generalized estimating equations (GEE) the longitudinal changes with chronological age and differences between boys and girls were analyzed. Teenage boys and girls increased their peak VO2 (ml/min) significantly (p < .001) until age 14 in girls and until age 17 in boys. However peak VO2 relative to bodyweight (peak VO2/BW) had significantly (p < .001) decreased over the whole age range from 12 to 36 in both sexes. Vigorous physical activity (VPA) also showed a decrease and was significantly (p < .001) related with lower peak VO2/BW (Beta = 0.001). This relation was stronger in boys than in girls. Because at the start of AGAHLS no fast responding metabolic instruments were available, future longitudinal studies about aerobic fitness should include also measurement of VO2 kinetics.
Kemper and van Mechelen are with the Dept. of Occupational Health, EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research, and Twisk the Dept. of Health Sciences, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands.